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Certain misspellings from the original document, believed to be accidental, were corrected, while others were transcribed as recorded.
At Wooster, Ohio, July 4th, 1870
Long will the 4th of July, 1870, be a memorable day in the history of Wooster. Nature smiled upon the earth through a serene sky and a bright sun illuminated the heavens. Rapidly ripening wheat called upon the husbandman to use the reaper with diligence, as the mower had already been used with the hay; but yet the county contributed largely to the number of celebrators. The thunders of the cannon, which was under charge of Ed. Van Houten, Frank P. Hess, Ab. Sommers, K. Porter Garing, Marion France, Will C. White, Will F. Rhone, John Bolus, Louis Kermickle, and Newt. Stuller, awakened sleepers early in the morning to a realizing sense that the 4th of July was upon us, and that it was to be commemorated by a Reunion of the 16th O. V. I. As the morning advanced, bunting and flags of the United States were thrown to the breeze very generally on our principal streets. Messrs. Eckels & Wallace had handsomely decorated the front of Areadome with the evergreen and had spanned the street with a streamer, whereon was painted in large letters:
WELCOME TO THE 16TH OHIO
The following members of the Regiment were present:
(reunion attendance pages to be developed)
HISTORY OF THE SIXTEENTH OHIO INFANTRY.
By 8 0'clock the people began to come in from the country with a rapidity to show, that at least the youth and beauty would be very largely represented at the Re-Union --that they would surrender the day to a glorification of the immortal 4th of July --the great day on which the corner-stone of the mightiest Republic of all time was laid. On the people came, and by 10 1/2 o'clock, the time designated in the programme for the formation of the procession, a dense throng had congregated on the Public Square and the city wore a gala day appearance. At 10 1/2 o'clock A.M., the procession formed in the following order: New Pittsburgh Band, Mayor, City Council, Speaker and Chaplain; Fire Department of Wooster, consisting of Wooster, N0. 3, Relief, No. 4, and a miniature Hook and Ladder Company, entitled
Young Beginners; Regimental Band, Color Guard, with Stand of Regimental Colors; Surviving Officers and members of the 16th Regiment, Friends of the Regiment. A life-size portrait of Col. De Courcey was carried in the procession.
About 11 o'clock A.M., the procession began to move passing along South street to Buckeye; north on Buckeye to Liberty street; west on Liberty to Walnut street; counter-marched to the Public Square; thence up North Market street to Camp Tiffin.
A large number of the people had preceded the procession to the grounds, and by the time the procession was gathered around the stand, which was befittingly enwrapped in flags of the United States, as many as three thousand people must have been on the grounds.
Rev. J. Matlock, Regimental Chaplain, impressively invoked a blessing on the exercises of the day, and returned thanks for the 4th of July and the memories that cluster around it, and that it had been granted to them there to meet in Re-union. The Star Spangled Banner was sung by the Regimental Glee Club, the Regiment grandly swelling the chorus.
Captain A. S. McClure then delivered the following reception address:
ADDRESS OF CAPTAIN A. S. M'CLURE.
On the spot where the regiment was organized we reassemble, for the first time, after a separation of almost six years. The occasion recalls the events of a decade the most important and grand that ever swept over the American people or the Western Hemisphere. It recalls the outlines of that heroic struggle for American nationality, civilization and democracy, the glorious end of which we are all so proud. It recalls the incidents of campaigns, the episodes of the bivouac, the exposures of the march, the sharp realities of the battlefield, the disaster of imprisonment, the sly enterprises of the forage, the cemented friendship of the amp-fire, the fall of comrades, indeed, the whole checkered panorama of the glories and vicissitudes of actual war. In a government built essentially on the basis of peace, unaccustomed to the turmoil of war, unincumbered by a vast military establishment, uninflamed by an inordinate appetite for territorial agrandizement, unassailed by powerful neighbors, it is seldom that men are enrolled to battle in a struggle so vast, so costly, so bloody, so full of disasters, yet so brilliant; so fluctuating, yet so successful, as that through which we passed. And I rejoice that, after so many hardships and toils, so many dangers and vicissitudes, we live to commemorate, on the nation's birthday, the first reunion of our scattered ranks. It was in October, 1861, when the hand of autumn had began to paint these old forest trees in the gorgeous colors that invite and foreshadow the spoliation of winter, that we pitched our tents on this spot, and commenced, under the training of a perfect soldier, the acquisition of that exact discipline for which the regiment was especially distinguished.
Since then nine years, opulent of marvelous events, have whirled by -- years that have solved the great problem of the age, the problem of representative democracy; years that have emblazoned their signet on every face present here to-day; years that have developed youth into man hood, girlhood into maturity, old age into decrepitude; years that have laid their heavy hands on our ranks, leaving great mortal gaps, never again to be replenished, to attest their passage; years that have dug deep, ugly scars on the breast of the nation, but have, at the same time, purified its democracy, assimilated its industries, re-enthroned its sovereignty, vivified its enterprise, regenerated its constitutional life, vindicated its flag and nationalized its liberty.
But how changed the scene to-day! We look out on the same rolling fields, decorated with the shocked evidences of the husbandman's toil. We look down upon the same spired city, we tread upon the same turf, we enjoy the shades of the same old forest trees, we look up at the same bending sky, the imperishable features of physical nature are the same, but all else how changed! I behold, instead of loud preparations for war, the civic demonstrations of peace. No brass buttons, no blue coats, no gilded signs of rank, no smoking pots of pork and beans, no whitened tents, no measured paced squads acquiring the rudimental knowledge of the school of the soldier, tell of breakers ahead. Neither does the jolly reveille awaken, nor emphatic taps enfold us in the embrace of sleep which soldiers only know. No serried line of misguided enemies embattled to strike down the nation's flag and the nation's life, challenge us to mortal combat. No frowning monarchies, scowling on the struggling cause of representative freedom, subsidize our foes to disembowel their native land. No war no bloodshed, no domestic violence inhabits the country. But peace, glorious, permanent, unstained peace, enwraps it in its profitable embrace. A reunited regiment, sheltered by a victorious flag, welcomed by a grateful people, tells the story of a nation's redemption and a soldier's honor.
When I look around on this assembled throng, when I note the preparations for your reception, when I look into your familiar faces no longer bronzed by the blazing sun of the South, the marked incidents of the camp and field, the whole magnificent scope of your marches, embracing territory extending from the waters of the Kanawha almost to those of the Rio Grande, reappear before my eyes with distinct, tangible, living reality. I recollect how, on that cold, raw, gloomy November day in 1861, with an inhospitable sky overhead and a saturated soil beneath our feet, oppressed with cheerless, foreboding atmosphere, we broke camp on this spot and faced southward to the theatre of active operations. I recollect Camp Dennison with its disease-breeding barracks, Lexington with its social jubilees, the initial march through mud and rain and dreariness to Somerset, where we first snuffed the gale of battle, and heard, with impatient ardor, impeded by swollen streams, the deep reverberating guns of that untarnished old hero, who has since been wrapped in everlasting sleep by the icy hand of death, winning for the national cause, at Mill Springs, its first disect, positive, face to face victory. This was simply preparatory schooling for the keener exigencies to come. From Somerset to Cumberland Ford we experienced the vigorous exposure incident to an active campaign in the winter season. The operations around Cumberland Gap, with its magnificent valleys, its wild, picturesque, rugged mountain scenery, though signalized by occasional vicissitudes, and one sharp encounter, were in general, holiday amusement.
Cut off in that impregnable mountain fastness by Bragg in his aggressive demonstration against Cincinnati and Louisville, one hundred and ninety five miles from our base of operation, with supplies exhausted, it only remained to the national forces, seizing the opportunity, to retreat to the Ohio river. For sixteen days, harassed by bushwhacking enemies, unfed, shoeless, ragged, vermin-infested, we toiled on through a wild, broken, gorged, semi-barbaric, God-forsaken, guierrilla-inhabited country to Greenupsburgh, on the Ohio river. I have read in poetry how the wayfarer, tossed about on foreign shores, or ensnared in foreign climes, thrills with joy when he beholds the flag and soil of his native land. But no voyager ever experienced a more tumultuous emotion of delight at the sight of his native land than did the Sixteenth Ohio boys when, after that laborious march, emerging from the woods of Kentucky, they espied the friendly hills of Ohio. And Ohio, never before or since, seemed so good, so grand, so glorious, so home-like, so sacred, as it did on that memorable occasion. We felt like bowing down to her rugged old hills, like making love to her grand old trees, like embracing her soil, our native State. I believe that it was the deep love for Ohio, which rolled up like a huge ground-swell from our hearts on that day, that ultimately induced the regiment to haul down its floating banner of bachelorhood, and, by a natural and beautiful process, from hills, from trees, from soil, from the incorporeal essence that constitutes a State, to transfer its love to the peerless reality of Ohio's daughters. From the multitude of regimental babes, with whose acquaintance I have been honored to-day, I am led to suspect that the regiment has repudiated, with chivalrous alarcity, the unsoldierly and uncitizenly condition of bachelorhood. Why, even the obdurate Botsford, after resisting with illustrious valor, for nearly a quarter of a century the omnipotent attractions of woman, finally yielded, with sweet gracefulness, to one of Indiana's bright eyed daughters. I expect that this matrimonial contagion, enlarging to trans-Atlantic dimensions, will yet compel the incorrigible, but civil, De Courcey to yield to its irresistibleness. The Sixteenth Ohio has already transmitted to posterity, on the pages of history, the evidences of its valor, and it now proposed to transmit evidences equally as unmistakable, and still more numerous, of its citizenship.
The campaign up the Kanawha in the golden month of October, and then down the Ohio and Mississippi to Memphis, was simply a refreshing episode. Encampment, after arduous campaigns, in the vicinity of a populous city, is always congenial to the soldier. For it is an essential part of his nature to use luxury lavishly in expectation of prospective hardships. This is true the world over, and it furnishes a logical solution of the pillage of fallen cities and the devastation of overrun countries. It is one of the inherent evils of war, and the most iron discipline cannot entirely eradicate it, as it is grounded in the philosophy of human nature, and built on the logic of cause and effect.
On the 20th of December, 1862, the expedition fitted out at Memphis to operate against Vicksburgh and, if possible, to reopen the Mississippi river, embarked on transports for the theater of action. On the 25th it arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo. On the 26th it ascended up that river twelve miles, landed, and unceremoniously commenced business. The Sixteenth was immediately deployed as skirmishers, being one of the first regiments to engage the enemy. The grounds over which we operated for the possession of the inaccessible bluffs of Chickasaw was a quagmire, intersected with bayous, and especially signalized for the fecundity of its alligators. Our struggle in the woods on the 28th to dislodge the enemy from his outer line of defences, and our charge on the 29th over abatti, over rifle-pits across the bayou, up into the jaws of the enemy's cannon, enfiladed and swept, on front and in flank, needs no embellishment. The crowded fierceness of the struggle for Chickasaw Bluffs is attested by the fact that the three brigades engaged in the assault lost, in the period of a half an hour upwards of two thousand men, killed, wounded, or captured. The charge was superbly made and superbly repulsed. My immediate recollection of it ended ignominiously in the Vicksburgh jail. The Sixteenth Ohio suffered heavily in these engagements, but with buoyancy undejected and discipline unimpaired. The victory of Arkansas Post and gloom of Young's Point occupied the time until Grant, comprehending the situation, swung loose from his base of operations at Milliken's Bend, broke the blockade, launched his columns across the Mississippi, and on the 4th of July, 1863, after a model campaign, brilliant in strategy, masterly in conception, unsurpassed in energy, fertile in expedients, skillful in execution and tremendous in results, planted his battle flags on the heights of fallen Vicksburg, thus practically disenthralling the Mississippi river from insurgent control and reasserting the unalterable and indefeasible right of the northwest to the free navigation of that great continental highway of inland commerce. The Sixteenth Ohio participated in all the engagements -- Thompson's Hill, Champion Hill, and Black River bridge -- that resulted in this splendid trophy. Vicksburg ours, Jackson demolished, we reposed, for a brief season, from our toils. Transportation to New Orleans followed next, succeeded by the voracious enjoyment of the luxuries of that opulent and voluptuous city. Then whirling by rail, through tropical regions, to Brashear city, we marched up the valley of the Teche to Opelousas, immortalized in song. The objects of the expedition accomplished, returning in the same path, by foot and rail, through endless orange groves, we found our way back to New Orleans, and embarked on transports for Matagorda, Texas, where, after experiencing the tempestuous navigation of the gulf, we landed in the month of November, 1863. The climate of Texas, although commonly denominated salubrious, is nevertheless subjected to frigid disturbances in the shape of
Northers. On several windy occasions the regiment enjoyed the rare opportunity of
grabbing roots during the prevalence of these terrific gales. Recalled from Texas to reinforce the columns of General Banks, shattered by the disaster of Sabine Cross Roads, we disembarked at Alexandria on the 24th of April, 1864, after a passage by water over the gulf, up the Mississippi and Red Rivers, to find the national forces considerably demoralized. Further aggressive demonstrations having been pronounced impracticable, the national forces retreated to Morganza, on the Mississippi, leaving one hundred and fifty miles of fertile country a smoking ruin and a depopulated waste, to bear awful evidence to the furious rage of a disappointed and beaten army.
The lessons of civil war are mournful: its devastation appalling, its ruin gigantic. It is to be hoped the recent experience of the American people has been so terrible, that should the arm of domestic violence ever again be raised against the nation's flag, that it will be blasted in tis socket and fall as a withered and stricken member to earth. It would be well, on each recurrence of the nation's birthday, to pledge afresh our fidelity to its flag and union, and to avow anew our deep, ineradicable detestation of domestic strife in every shape and form.
The enlisted period of the Sixteenth having expired, it was ordered to Columbus, Ohio, where, on the 31st of October, 1864, it was discharged. Its campaigns extended from the mountains of West Virginia to the seacoast of Texas, embracing operations in the valleys of the Kanawha, Cumberland, Powell, Mississippi, Yazoo, Big Black, Red Rivers, the bayou of the Teche, and in the States of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. It traversed in its diversified marches, twelve hundred and eighty-five miles by rail, twelve hundred by steamship, and sixteen hundred and twenty-two on foot.
After three such eventful years spent in the military service of the country, and after six years of separation in civil life, you have come up here today, from your homes dispersed throughout this State and the great Northwest, full of lasting friendship for each other, to give and to grasp the open hand of a comrades's welcome, and to review the glorious recollections of the soldier days gone by. The agile rushing, restless Kershner, from the great pine mart of Michigan is here. The true-souled Mills from the hills of old Muskingum is here. The philosophic Brashear, from the smoke of the Birmingham of America is here. The exact Bottsford, the deposed bachelor, from the central emporium of Cheesedom, is here. The genial, vivacious, jocose Chase, from one of Ohio's youngest cities, is here. The open-hearted Ross, who left a part of his speaking apparatus on the field of Chickasaw; the adventurous Liggett, the resolute Tanneyhill, and the wiery Vorhees, from defamed, but gallant Holmes, are here. And the boys, the unepauletted heroes, the bone and sinew of the Regiment, its vitality, its courage, its glory are here in force. But there are others who are not here. Harn, Edgar, Spangler, Monroe, Richeson, Steine, Finch, Lichy, sleep the unending sleep of death. Gaps, fearful gaps, lacerate every company, every platoon, every section, almost every file of the regiment. Two hundred and seventy one of our number will never again respond to any earthly reveille, or spring to arms at the nation's call. Their work is done. Their voices are silent. Their forms have decomposed into dust, the original and the end of man. No mausoleum enshrines their ashes; but they fill a solider's tomb, the most honorable of all. By the mountains of Kentucky, by the banks of the Ohio, Mississippi, Pearl, and Red rivers, on the battlefields of five insurgent States, by the shores of the Chesapeake, on the bed of ocean and gulf their bones are scattered. No monuments commemorate their resting places, but a deathless fame immortalized their deeds. While we rejoice at the reunion of the living, let us with uncovered heads and deep seated sorrow, pay a tribute of respect to the memory of the dead.
The nation's birthday again overtakes us, Ninety-six years measure the independence of the United States of America. From three millions of struggling unrecognized, beleaguered people, we have expanded into the magnificence of one of the grandest powers on the globe. Forty millions of people hail the day and glory in its proud traditions. Thirty-seven States obey the sovereignty of the Union. Our commerce, encircling the globe, utilizes every profitable part of navigation. American inventive genius, unchallenged, wears the champion belt. The whole nation glows with life. A reorganized South healed of the wounds of civil strife, and reconstituted industry, aspires to outstrip the victorious North in the race for wealth and commercial superiority. The prosperity of the nation is unclouded. May its flag ever be unsullied, its laws pure, its justice incorruptible, its credit unimpeached, its freedom universal, its soldiers brave, its women true, its States loyal, its Union eternal.
Conciliation at home, and peace abroad, should be the cardinal feature of our domestic and foreign policy. The American people have everything to gain by tranquillity, and everything to lose by domestic disturbances and foreign complications. But, if in the unknown exigencies of the future, it shall be necessary, in defense of the nation's life or its honor, to appeal to war, the Sixteenth Ohio, true to its past, will early be found in the columns of the Union, but in the ranks of the enemy, never.
The Captain's personal allusions elicited hearty applause, as did many of his periods.
After the delivery of the address, the New Pittsburg Bankd discoursed suitable music excellently. Then there was an adjournment to dinner, which had been prepared in reasonable profusion and invitingly spread by the hands of fair ladies in the grove, and was enjoyed exceedingly by all who partook of it.
Dinner over, the Gun Squad, with the Cannon, announced that there were additional exercises to take place at the stand, whither the people repaired, and were first entertained with the song entitled
Tramp, Tramp by the Regimental Glee Club, the Regiment taking up and swelling the chorus.
RESPONSE BY COL. PHILIP KERSHNER.
The first Regular Toast --
The Field and Staff, -- was then read, and responded to as follows by Col. Philip Kershner, which was well received throughout by the members and audience present:
Early in the autumn of 1861 were assembled in this beautiful grove a few hundred men, the nucleus of the 16th Reg't, O. V. I. The field and Staff then consisted of Lieut. Col. Bailey, then in command, myself as Junior Field Officer, Major Brashear, Surgeon, Capt. Chase, Assist, Surgeon, Lieut. Cunningham, Adjutant, Lieut. Cowan, Quartermaster.
Lieut. Col. Bailey was tendered the command, but declined, saying that he had seen quite enough during the three months service to convince him that in order to have a good regiment we must have an experienced solder at our head. you all know how energetically and ardently he labored to organize. As a co-laborer with him, I will here say that we had several interviews with the authorities at Columbus, urging upon them to make no appointment to the command of the 16th Ohio unless they were positive of giving us a thoroughly competent officer.
Our wishes in this particular were soon gratified in the appointment of that accomplished soldier, Col. John F. De Courcey.
The Field and Staff were now complete except a Chaplain, and summed up, so far as their matrimonial relations where concerned, five bachelors and two benedicts.
The line officers in this particular were still more disproportionate, there being twenty-three bachelors and seven married men--so the bachelors had a majority of nineteen on joint ballot--quite enough to pass a bill of impeachment if their ideas were not complied with.
But now we had plenty of work to do and a thoroughly qualified chief. For my own part I shall never forget those memorable words of his, addressed to us on the occasion of his introduction and assuming command, when he said that
three things were requisite to make a good soldier. The first was discipline, the second was discipline, the third was discipline. It was not long until many of us fancied that the
three enumerated requisites were indefinitely multiplied. We were awakened in the morning by discipline, with drums and bugles enough to make these old forests trees quiver. We cooked and ate our breakfast by discipline, boiled our pork and beans by discipline; in short, we had discipline morning, noon and night, with bountiful supply of tactics interspersed. Vigilance is essential to a speedy organization, and preparation for the field--how perfectly did he comprehend this. Often Have I in the execution of his orders, cast my eye to yonder spot where stood his tent, to see if that great eye of his, the fire and brilliancy of two concentrated in one, was following me. A sort of rod suspended
in terrorum over our heads.
To give you a fair idea of his watchfulness I will here refer to an instance which applies particularly to myself. While I was engaged instructing officers in yonder field, and feeling peculiarly happy at what I considered my success, I was suddenly cut short in my career of happiness, by a voice loud and sharp enough to make the oldest veteran recoil, with the declaration,
Major, you are wrong sir!
I could see no one within the enclosure of the field, but just above the top of a nine rail fence, discovered that great eye of his, a sort of composite battery of brass and iron. Of course I was prepared for a bombshell that would explode all my ideas on that particular part of the tactics.
While engaged in Brigade or Battalion exercises, if there appeared to be the least unsteadiness, or wavering in the line, who of us has forgot that command of his,
Steady, not a move. My genial friend Major Muse seemed ready to plead
guilty. My esteemed friend Major Mills, the bravest of the brave, always calm and composed, seemed to grow unsteady. The phiz of my convivial friend, Major Bottsford, elongated much like a sanctimonius deacon, and he seemed to be casting about for a safe retreat.
A fly had a squatter sovereignty right to your nasal organ, but there was no
Shoo Fly, don't bodder me, allowed here. No one was especially referred to, but we all felt awkward, and those words were applicable to each and all of us.
To the perfect knowledge of discipline and tactics, exercised with no ensparing hand, and yet not in excess of obligations and duty, in conjunction with our Superior Medical Staff, can we attribute the unusually excellent health of our Regiment.
During a long and familiar acquaintance with Col. DeCourcey, particularly during the summer of 1863, when we were associated together as members of the same general Court Martial at Lexington, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio, and when the probabilities were that he would soon retire from the service for reasons deemed quite sufficient, can I bear evidence to his love and admiration for his old Regiment, often expressed in the warmest terms.
I must not forget to refer to the valuable services of Mrs. Brashear, who was with us so long, ministering to the wants of the sick and wounded, with a devotion and tenderness that woman alone knows how to exercise, preparing suitable food for them and cheering them with words of comfort and hope.
It was while we were at Lexington, Kentucky, that the Field and Staff officers were in the height of their glee, all but myself, for I had to stay in camp and take care of the old Bachelors of the (line?), (a pretty hard task) whilst they were in the city eating fine dinners, attending splendid tea parties, making love to the pretty girls (just as though I didn't like such things.) I bore it all without a murmer; for that would have been insubordination; but secretly resolved that if rebel bullets permitted they would have to hurry up their cakes if they beat me getting married and here I am to-day the only one of the original field officers married, bringing along with me a boy half as large as old John himself.
While some of us were taking a short sojourn in Dixie, at the expense of the Rebel Government, my esteemed friend Dr. Chase concluded to get married and have his name stricken from the roll of Bachelors. He was an excellent officer and a genial, clever fellows, beloved and respected by all. As soon as the preliminary arrangements could be made, and no detriment to the service he was speedily followed by Major Mills, Major Botsford, Capt. Cunningham and myself, from the Field and Staff, and by scores of the line officers, non-commissioned officers and privates. But our accomplished adjutant is left out in the cold. I fear he will be difficult to capture, matrimonially. The rebels could not capture him, although he was in the thickest of the fight and where the danger was greatest. To the lady who will study Jomini on strategy, and with the aid of that distinguished author devise some plan for his capture, I will guarantee a prize worth having, a prisoner of war she will never wish to exchange.
The second Regular Toast --
The Officers of the Line, Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates -- was to have been responded to by Major R. W. P. Muse; but he not being in attendance, it was not respondedto.
There was music by the New Pittsburgh Band, when
SURGEON B. B. BRASHEAR.
who had just arrived from the city of Pittsburgh on the cars, in response to the third Regular Toast--
The Memories of the Campaign -- warming and enlivening the members of the Regiment present, said:
From a neighboring State, I have come to meet and greet you on this ever memorable day, in this familiar grove, to mingle my gratulations with you on this the occasion of the first Re-union of the survivors of the Sixteenth Ohio Inf. Vols., and to enjoy with you the generous welcome and the splendid hospitalities of the good people of Wayne county and of the beautiful city of Wooster. That so many of you have
reported for duty on this interesting and instructive occasion, is an omen of good, and clearly indicates that there shall be yet other meetings like this, that though dispersed among widely separated counties and even in distant States, yet shall we not forget the ties that bound us together like one great family, during the eventful period of our enlistment, as soldiers in the grand Army of the Union.
This happy occasion very naturally and involuntarily calls up the
memories of our campaign. What is it, my dear comrades, that you remember of our three years' service in arms? Not your dangers and trials and privations and the numberless perplexities of camp life; not how often you were sick, and hungry, and tired, and ragged, and thirsty, and disappointed, and mad because you were not all Brigadiers, or Colonels, or 2nd Lieutenants, or Doctors; not how often you repented that you had never been enrolled in this tyrannical regiment.--none of these unpleasant and cheerless things do you remember--happily they cumber not your recollections,--but your joys, pleasures, triumphs, successes of every kind, --all the peculiarly enticing and exhilarating scenes and incidents of life in the tented field,--these are the things that abide in and ennoble and enlarge the memory and the understanding, and ought never to be forgotten.
If time would permit, it would give me the highest satisfaction to recount to you such of the events of our campaign as fill my recollection with the most pleasurable emotions. It is our unwritten history, the unrecorded events of our military life, that I would like to go over in detail with you this delightful afternoon. If there is any part of our private history that should not be unfolded in the presence of those who you love and cherish as you do your country--those whom you temporarily forsook in order to make more secure--for whose sake you voluntarily risked the dread calamities of domestic war, these jealous and zealous guardians of your honor, vigilant conservators of your reputation, these your wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, the ladies , whom it is our privilege to welcome with heart-felt grateful and respectful thanks as participants in this Re-union, --if any of our unpublished deeds would not be sanctioned by their smiles or applauded by their nicer discrimination, all mention of them shall be sedulously avoided. Having completed our organization at this our place of rendezvous, we anxiously set out on Thanksgiving day, 1861, for Camp Dennison. This movement delighted us, because we were tending in the direction of the enemy. Unfortunately we were quartered in unfinished barracks. Lamentable consequences followed--many of us were prostrated by a more or less fatal sickness. The circumstances were eagerly seized upon by the enemy in the rear, who busied himself in disseminating the elements of discord. He most particularly assailed the medical management of the regiment. The virulent fever which proceeded from damp barracks and unavoidable crowd-poison, he argued all arose from a want of brains in the medical department. True, none of us were skilled in the art of
camping at that time. We all lacked the experience that afterwards taught us how to avoid the causes of disease to a commendable degree. If you had been supplied with
dog tents and been permitted to burrow in the steep hillside that overlooked our quarters at Camp Dennison, I doubt not the average sick report would have been much abbreviated. At this point I cannot forbear alluding to the industry and efficiency of all those connected with me in the management of the sanitary affairs of the Sixteenth Ohio. For ability, honesty, integrity, and faithfulness, Surgeon Chase was not surpassed by any young man commissioned from the State of Ohio. Like testimony, permit me to offer in favor of Dr. Scott, who is at his post today, as in the memorable past, and of Dr. Falk and Dr. Bradon, who are now numbered amount our honorable dead, whose memories are maligned by none, but honored by all.
From Camp Dennison we proceeded on the 17th of December to the beautiful inland city of Lexington, Ky. Of that hospitable place, I have the most favorable recollections. It would be delightful to hold some future re-union in that once famous seat of learning. The home of Clay, and Crittenden, and Dudley, and Marshall, and Breckinridge, and John Morgan.
As the enemy was threatening to invade Kentucky, we were put in marching order and on Sunday, Jan. 12, 1862, we set out for Nicholasville. This was the first day you were required to march on foot. You will remember how tired you were that night. On Friday, the 17th, we had arrived at Hall's Gap, and the terminus of the macadamized road. The 18th was a heavy day's march through almost impassable mud and water. On Sunday, the 19th, we were often delayed by the state of the roads, while we were eagerly pushing on to support Gen. Thomas, who was about to have an engagement on the banks of the Cumberland, near Somerset. During the P.M. we heard the sharp cannonade between Thomas and Zollicoffer. But it was not our good fortune to be in that engagement, Captain Patterson and his pioneers, (I believe it was Captain Patterson,) were unable to repair the roads in time for us to unite with the force of Gen. Thomas. That night we encamped near Somerset on the road leading to London, the county-seat of Laurel county. This, I believe, you called Camp Pone. Here we remained until Jan. 31, when we started for London. That P.M. we lost our Colonel. He resigned, and Col. Bailey took command. That night -- do you remember it? -- you camped on the hillside, in a continuous pelting rain without tent or shelter of any kind. On account of bad roads our baggage wagons failed to get in. Incidents.--DeCourcey un-resigned. The next day, Feb. 1st, we marched on mile and camped on the left bank of Buck creek. Sunday, 2nd, passed camp of the 9th Ohio battery, Capt. Wetmore. Incidents.--Strife for possession of ferry boats over Rock Castle river, at Sublimity Springs. Conflict of authority. Incidents.--Col. DeCourcey and McKee. Feb. 7 Arrived at the old town of London. Here under the lead of the Captain of Co. A., it was projected to give our British Colonel an exhibition of Yankee pluck and independence, mauger the fact of our being soldiers and legally bound to obey all reasonable orders of our superiors.
Feb. 12. Encamped on the banks of the Cumberland, near Flat Lick, just below Poque's. At one time we were entirely surrounded by water, the river having risen 40 feet perpendicular! The place we called Camp Cumberland. From this we went up the river to the ford, left bank on the 27th of February. Tuesday morning, March 11, a dense fog prevailing, we made our first recognizance of Cumberland Gap! Do you remember how we all felt when the enemy opened his battery that covered the road on which we were posted? Although beyond his range, we then thought a return to our quarters at the ford was the most prudent thing, under the circumstances. March 21, 22 and 23 recognizance in force--it snowed nearly the whole time; --slept under a sheet of snow. Our next move was down the river to Mrs. Patterson's--a very pleasant camp--men had to carry provisions on their backs from Flat Lick; mules fed on young buds of the beech trees cut down for that purpose.
April 28, 29 and 30. Expedition to Cumberland Gap, engagement with the enemy; Harbaugh struck by a musket ball in the forehead--the first of our men to receive a gunshot at the hands of the enemy. It was on this occasion that Jerry Owens got so violent an attack of rheumatism as to necessitate his being carried to the rear on a stretcher; but somewhat miraculously recovered when fairly out of the way of harm. He and the regiment separated. We moved up the river to Camp Moss House. [The speaker here narrated how Col. DeCourcey was aroused on a Sunday forenoon by the sounds of religious exercises which brother Matlock was holding at some distance from his tent, and he wanted to know what
the d--d row was about.]
June 7th. Left Moss House for Wilson's Gap, Tenn. Wednesday the 11th, arrived at Roaring Spring, Powell's valley, via Roger's Gap. Remained one week. On the 18th got in order before daylight, and cautiously proceeded up the valley to Cumberland Gap, our objective point, which we made at sunset, unmolested by the enemy.
June 19th. Gen. Morgan issued a most beautiful and eloquent congratulatory order, a copy of which I wish I had to read to you today. June 27, crossed the mountain and established Camp Virginia on Yellow Creek, near Mrs. Hamilton's. Sunday, July 27, went out on a foraging excursion as far as Tazewell, Tennessee,--found no enemy. August 2, another excursion to Tazewell; remained out five days, until compelled to return by superior force of the enemy, whom you engaged (on the 6th) in a sharp conflict of two hours. Dr. Chase went as Surgeon. Capt. Edgar, of Company B., was killed in this engagement. Col. Kershner's horse received a ball in his shoulder. Got back to camp at midnight of the 6th, luckily not captured. August 18, entirely surrounded by the enemy! It now became an interesting question how long our commissariat would hold out, and what should be done when our supplies were exhausted. Finally, it was decided to evacuate the position. Accordingly, our brigade left Cumberland Gap on Monday, P.M., Sept. 8, for Manchester, Ky., a distance of fifty miles. Ten days later the whole Union force at the Gap struck tents, and then began the celebrated retreat, which an enthusiastic noncombatant who accompanied us, declared to be equal to the memorable retreat of the Greeks under Xenophon, from the plains of the Tigris and Euphrates, after the battle of Cunaxa and the death of Cyrus. Many most interesting incidents make this retreat worthy of remembrance by us. We were closely watched and guarded by John Morgan, who compelled us to move in close column. Sometimes he was in advance of us; sometimes in the rear; now on the right, and now on the left flank: but always afraid to attack us. As we quietly, steadily and perseveringly trudged along the dusty way, by day and by night, it was curious enough to see how things animate and inanimate would would join in the march. Chickens and geese and turkeys, butter and honey, sorghum syrup and apple jack, were frequently known to fall in for a day's march. One beautiful night as the moon shone dimly through the flying clouds and the dense foliage that overhung our path, an assortment of milk crocks were seen to emerge from a diminutive spring-house by the obscure wayside and quietly take their place among the properties of the slowly moving throng. It was a singular sound that, at every halt, came to the ear from out every baggage wagon in our dusty train. That discordant sound was made by the unmusical operation of what you were pleased to call
Armstrong's Mill. How often did I gladly appease a craving appetite with the eagerly sought for products of that mill.
Thursday, Oct. 2, at Grayson, Carter county, Ky., John Morgan abandoned us and we proceeded unmolested to Greeupsburg the next day. On Saturday, we knew we had reached the free air of our own longed for Ohio, for at the lovely little village of Wheelersburg we were entertained at a bountiful barbecue, the impromptu offering of the good people of that place and vicinity. Monday, Oct. 6, found us at Portland or Oak Hill. Here we were gladly met by anxious friends from home, whose cordial welcome made us soon forget the hardships of the retreat, and here we rested and recruited for the delightful trip we soon afterwards made up the great Kanawha. Leaving Charleston, the present capital of West Virginia, we embarked at Pt. Pleasant, on Friday morning, Nov. 14, on the steamers Key West and Marmora, and in 12 days we landed at Memphis, Tennessee. Here we encamped in the suburbs, on the beautiful fair grounds, while Gen. Sherman was organizing his forces for an assault () upon Vicksburg. Bro. Matlock, Surgeon Chase, and myself, cherish a lively recollection of that encampment. On the night of the 3rd of Dec. they each lost a horse and I lost two. They were captured for duty in the Union cavalry, without doubt.
Saturday, Dec. 20, embarked on board transport Fanny Bullitt for the Yazoo river, arriving at Johnson' Landing on the 26th. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Dec. 27, 28 and 29, were engaged in the disastrous affair of Chickasaw Bayou. The details of those terrible days have been abundantly set forth, and I pass to notice the condition of our regiment, what was left of it, on the sorrowful morning of the 30th. There it lay near the scene of carnage without shelter, in the mud, on the rough ridges of a canefield or cornfield, the furrows running with water from heavy rain the day and night previous, with empty haversacks and heavy hearts, a mere handful of what was the pride of all of us the day before, in command of Lieut. Liggett. Where were all our missing comrades, where was Col. Kershner and the other brave officers that went boldly up the stout ramparts of the enemy?
Cannon in front of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, like the 600, what had become of them? Were they killed, or were they captured? On the 31st, under a flag of truce, we sought our dead and wounded and endeavored to ascertain how many were made prisoners and hurried off to murky dungeons.
January 1, 1863, re-embarked on the Fanny Bullitt and steamed up the river, we knew not wither, debarking in front of Post Arkansas on the 9th. On Sunday, the 11th, that stronghold was taken. This success somewhat mitigated the disastrous affair at Chickasaw Bayou. On the 14th we had six inches of snow, an unexpected thing to us in that low latitude. January 22d we arrived at Young's Point. Here we encountered that darkest night that preceded the bright dawn of the following 4th of July, when the immense force and armament under Pemberton capitulated to General Grant. Here two officers that never quailed before the enemy in front, surrendered to the enemy in the rear. Here we lost our Colonel. Being demoralized, as he himself put it, he obtained a leave of absence and sought another command. Here, too, we lost our Division commander, on account of sickness, and in part because the evacuation of Cumberland Gap had not met the hearty approval of Secretary Stanton.
On the 11th of March we left Young's Point and moved up the river to Milliken's Bend. From this point began the grand combined movement which resulted in the circumvention of Vicksburg. Our regiment struck tents on Easter Sunday, April 5th. * * * Ominous quiet of the 3d of July. Jubilant rejoicings on the morning of the 4th. Eagerness to visit the historic city. Sunday, 5th, Gen. Sherman crossed Big Black river in pursuit of Johnston. We followed at 12, M., on Monday; made six miles; hardest march we ever made, probably. On the 10th, before the enemy's works at Jackson. Fight began at 10, A. M.--continued one week. On the 17th Jackson fired and evacuated. Tuesday, 21st leave the capital of Mississippi. Arrive at Vicksburg on the 25th. Camp below the city, near the river. July 30th, make new camp just below Marine Hospital. Thermometer 106 in the shade. August 13th, left Vicksburg on marine steamer John Rains. Arrive at Carrolton, above New Orleans, on Sunday, 16th. * * * Sunday, September, 6th, left New Orleans for Brashear City. Friday, 25th, crossed the Bay and camped at Berwick City. I remember Saturday, the 3d of October, there were 350 sick soldiers to be disposed of before proceeding up the Teche. * * Trip up the Teche and return were delightful. * * Wednesday, November 25th, left New Orleans at 12, M., on U.S. steamship St. Mary, for Texas. * * December 1st, enter Pass Cavallo to Matagorda Bay. On the 2d, debark at Decrow's Point.
The speaker here gave a hurried account of the remaining services of the regiment which summed up nearly as follows:
From Decrow's Point, in January, 1864, it embarked for Indianola, Texas, moving thence to Matagorda Island. Immediately after Bank's defeat at Sabine Cross Roads, it embarked for New Orleans and Alexandria, Louisiana, near which last mentioned place it did much service, engaging the enemy in several skirmishes, and assisting in building the famous dam across Red River which saved our fleet of gunboats. Upon the evacuation of Alexandria, the regiment marched to Morganza, La., on the Mississippi river, from which point it made several expeditions into the enemy's country. October 6th it embarked on the steamer Luminary, bound north; reached Camp Chase about the 16th, and on the 31st of October, 1864, its term having expired, it was honorably discharged from the service.
The fourth Regular Toast --
The Bachelor Regiment -- was then read, but not responded to, because Surgeon B. S. Chase, who was assigned to respond to it was not present. Then the Regimental Glee Club sang
Victory at Last very happily.
Fifth Regular Toast --
Our Fallen Comrades. -- was then read, but not responded to, because Surgeon B. S. Chase, who was assigned to respond to it was not present. Then the Regimental Glee Club sang
Victory at Last very happily.
RESPONSE OF G. W. SNYDER.
To-day we are living in the past. Though war's dread alarms are not convulsing our nation; though the tramp of regiment after regiment calls not our attention; though the startling noise of the picket's gun quickens not our nerves; though the white tents do not spread far and near, yet the reunion of our remaining few brings every camp, every march, every battlefield to our view. As the panorama of all these scenes passes by we behold comrades one by one, and occasionally a number at a time, left among the fallen dead. Among the first, the brave Captain Edgar falls, covered with many wounds. Our regiment and our cherished sister regiment, the 22d Kentucky, gathered around this noble soldier's grave. In the forest before the bluffs of Chickasaw, we left the gallant Harn, whose gasping words were:
Tell my wife I died for my country. We leave Col. Kershner, our marshal for to-day, wounded, lying close to the enemy's works. We leave nearly two hundred others, officers, non-commissioned officers, privates--dead, or in the agonies of lacerated wounds, whose names I can not mention, whose names I need not mention for they are inscribed on the imperishable monuments of pious love and patriotic devotion, never to be obliterated as long as liberty reigns. Thompson Hill drank the blood of our dead. At Black river bridge, the soldiers again in silence bury their companions. It is not for them to say. It is for them to go forward, to do, to die. The next day Vicksburg heights claims a number, the ever memorable charge of the 22d of May, has its share. Neither would we forget the ones who perished from the burning fever, and from the various army diseases; but thanks to a competent medical department, and to Mrs. Brashear, who watched over us with all the affection and care of a mother. Our hospital dead were comparatively few. Yet there are things in connection with the sick in camp and hospital, which no medical skill, however efficient; no care, however tender and kind can overcome. The soldier is in as great peril there as on the gory field. He too falls for the same cause and country as the one before the mouth of the enemy's cannon. And they who had fallen, but again are in our midst, a remnant of their former strength and glory, like the forest tree shattered of its branches by the raging storm and lightning stroke, these, also, claim honor among the fallen. True, they are not dead neither are the others dead. Though their bodies lie mouldering beneath the soil, though their bones are bleaching beneath the Southern sun, yet that same spirit of theirs which animated us then animates us to-day. Nothing is dead which acts; nothing is dead which moves to patriotic motives and noble deeds. Though they hover around us invisible, yet they are not unfelt. They have helped to secure this nation from destruction; they are helping to preserve it in its continuation; and as long as the hills endure, as long as the genial rays of the sun falls on us a free people, shall their names be held in sacred memory by all lovers of their country.
The ceremonies over, the regiment reformed and marched to the Public Square, where it was dismissed. The evening was enlivened by a baloon ascension and fireworks.
The reunion of the 16th was characateristic of the Regiment. There was no drunkeness, no rowdyism, no profanity. It passed off smoothly and without a jar. It is to be hoped that the citizens of the county will extend to the 16th the widest liberality on each recurrence of its quadrennial reunions.
The Committee of Arrangements desire to express their thanks for the courtesy extended the regiment by the entire escort, the New Pittsburgh Band and the Gun Squad; and to the several committees of ladies for their valuable services; also to the citizens of city and county for their liberal supply of money and provisions; to the Editors for their full and complete reports and notices, and to Messrs. Eckles & Wallace for the use of Arcadome Hall.
LETTER FROM HON. M. WELKER.
The following letter in response to an invitation to be present, was received from Hon. M. Welker.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 29th, 1880
CAPT. A. S. MCCLURE,
Your letter in behalf of the Committee of Arrangement, inviting me to be present at the reunion of the Sixteenth O.V.I., on the 4th of July, was duly received.
Thanking you for the honor, I regret that my duties here will deprive me of the pleasure of meeting on that occasion the gallant survivors of the Sixteenth. I will, however, be with them in sympathy in their rejoicings.
It is fitting that the meeting should be on the Fourth of July. The anniversary of the immortal Declaration, that
All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. is indeed a day on which Freedom's Defenders may well assemble to congratulate each other on the success of their great services in protecting and perpetuating human rights and civil liberty involved in the war of the Rebellion.
I trust I need not say to you that I took a deep interest in the formation and subsequent career of the Sixteenth. I am proud of its records. No Ohio regiment made a better one. Its history is written in the great events of the war, from the valley of the Kanawha to the plains of Texas. In camp, on the march, in bivouac, or in battle's terrible contest, no man of the Sixteenth ever disgraced his flag or cowered before the enemy. In the many battles in which it participated, whether at Chickasaw Bayou, or Young's Point, it never faltered. Animated with devotion to the country and its glorious free institutions, no reverses ever daunted its courage or demoralized its ranks. In the great contest for the life of the nation, the noble Sixteenth did its whole duty, and deserves, as it receives, its full measure of praise and commendation in Ohio's proud record and history in the war.<./
But while I rejoice with the survivors over danger and services past and now recorded in history, my heart bleeds at the recollections of the many dead of the regiment. Some of them now lie in the South, where
Not a stone tells where they lie;
others in our beautiful cemetery, where yearly we may strew fresh flowers upon their honored graves. All honor to the noble dead! They died that their country might live. Let them not be forgotten, nor their widows and orphans. A grateful country will keep them in perpetual remembrance.
Allow me, in conclusion, to congratulate the officers and men at their first re union, and hope for many returns of a like gathering. May rich rewards, success and happiness attend all in the life-career and battle of each.
Permit me, also, to mingle my grief with theirs over their dead comrades, lost in battle, by wounds, or wasting disease. May their memories be ever fresh, their deeds never forgotten, and the devotion of their lives a proud heritage to all the friends of the glorious Sixteenth. I am very truly yours,
Letters were also received from Lt. Col. G. W. Bailey and Lieutenant Harvey S. Wood, regretting their inability to attend as nothing would give them so much pleasure as to meet again their old comrades in arms.
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